Castle Halloween FanFic Competition: To Still The Beating Of Her Heart



Another story for out fanfic competition. Here you can find all the stories for the 12th Precinct Castle Halloween FanFic Competition.
You can find the stories too on www.fanfiction.net for a possible easier read.


Story: To Still The Beating Of Her Heart
Rating: T
Word count: 2261



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AN: Apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Noyes. 

Poems referenced are: The Raven and Annabel Lee, by Poe, and The Highwayman, by Noyes.
Short story completely mangled is: The Tell-Tale Heart, by Poe.

Set S5. Spoilers for all aired eps. 
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It started low, just barely audible, and ignored at first. A light double thump in the background, as if from another room, muffled and thought imagined. She would pause throughout the week, stopping mid-thought, interrupted. She would stare at the murderboard, her hand poised to finish a word, her ears straining for confirmation she had heard it. 

Lub-dubLub-dub.

One week stretched into another, and still she couldn’t shake it. By Wednesday the noise, her constant companion, now clear and defined, could no longer be denied a name.

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Empty cup in hand, standing at the coffee machine in the break-room late Wednesday afternoon, Kate ignored Esposito’s inquisitive eyes boring into her while Ryan questioned her on whom she was taking to Castle’s Halloween bash later that night. Ryan spoke, and between his thoughts, as he paused to take a breath, she tried to ignore the low, but persistent, double thump. 

Was it her heart? 
She clutched a hand to her chest, feeling her heartbeat beneath. Steady and strong - and deafening.
It was

She dared meet Ryan’s eyes as she stirred her coffee, searching them for a hint he was aware of it too. Could he see her body reacting to his questions? His incessant, unrelenting, questions.
Esposito leaned in closer, curious. Was he listening to her words, or to her heart betraying her?

She wasn’t losing her mind, love had simply heightened her senses, and was turning her into an utter fool. God, she needed air. With coffee in hand, she brushed past both detectives, ignoring their taunts as she exited the break-room. Her eyes met Castle’s as she moved to where he sat beside her desk. The drumming resonated both in her chest and in her mind, and she knew they couldn’t go on like this.

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Wednesday evening, not even close to midnight, and Kate was just ready for this all to be over.  
The party. The night. The secrets. 
Also, she needed to pee. 

“So, Beckett,” Ryan began, cornering Kate at the snack-table in Castle’s living room. “No date?”

Popping a handful of peanuts into her mouth to show her lack of interest in replying, Kate narrowed her eyes and walked off. 
Under the pretense of needing a refill, she wandered into the kitchen where Castle was shaking cocktails, and planted her empty glass down on the counter. In a tone just loud enough for him to hear she said, “This sucks.”

He looked utterly heartbroken for a moment, his hand frozen in midair, cocktail shaker gripped tight. 

“I mean, us, the secrecy. Not the party.” She smiled as if to say the party was brilliant. And it was, she supposed, since the the music was loud enough to cover the sound of her heart pounding heavily against her ribs. 

Richard Castle’s annual Halloween bash - and she had come alone. They may have talked about dating other people, but after the little incident involving Castle, a bikini-clad reporter, and the couch, the rules had been laid out and neither had any interest in breaking them. So she would spend the party at his side, just enough to appear normal, not enough to arouse suspicion. Together, alone. And only once everyone had left for the night would she be able to crawl into bed with him, curl her body against his, press her lips to his, and be his. 

“Agreed,” he replied solemnly. He brought the cocktail shaker down onto the counter, and asked, “Sex on the Beach?”

“Yes, please,” she replied, distracted, missing his raised eyebrows as to what exactly she was agreeing to. She was gazing out into the sea of people, all drinking and laughing, most in costume - and almost all paired up. She smiled at Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff (Alexis and her date), at Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy (Jenny and Ryan, although he didn’t deserve it after the snack-table incident), watched as Dorothy wandered past the kitchen, and bit back a surprised yelp as Pennywise entered the loft. All her friends, people she considered family, in the same room. She was so ready to share this secret with them, wanted to announce to them all who her mysterious boyfriend was, and how insanely happy he was making her. She wanted to, but she couldn’t. They couldn’t. And it was eating her up inside.

“Oh, Kate, Darling. You look beautiful.”

Beckett turned to Martha’s wide smile and shining eyes. “Thank you, Martha.”

“But who are you dressed as?”

Clad in a long, white, flowing Grecian dress, gold sandals on her feet, hair curled and pinned up, and Castle’s raven - from a Halloween past - on her shoulder, she had hoped it wouldn’t need explanation. “Oh, just a Poe reference,” she replied kindly. It had been a joke, a nod to her partner’s middle name, and the fact she’d had the damn bird in her apartment, perched on a windowsill in her kitchen, watching her every move for the past few years. While Castle had approved of her decision, he had a gone for a slightly scarier look. He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin. A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin; They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh. And, oh God, she was reciting Noyes in her head. But that was Castle tonight, dressed as the Highwayman from the poem. The fake blood staining his outfit, and the expertly applied bullet wound at his temple that Lanie had helped him fashion, turned him from the Highwayman of the first several stanzas, to the one at the end. Only Castle would announce as proudly as he had earlier that he was a Highwayzombie. To be precise. 

Martha accepted a drink from her son, and moved back into the crowd, tipsy but happy. 

Kate flashed Castle a smile, and accepted the drink he slid along the counter top to her. She mixed the colors in the glass with the straw, spun the little umbrella, sighed softly. She was nervous, scared of the truth slipping out after too many drinks, and she couldn’t hide it. 

“Girl, no date tonight?” Lanie stepped up to her, her balance just a little off, her words slightly slurred.

Lub-dub. Lub-dub.

The sound filled her head again, surrounded her. The air around her thickened, each breath more difficult as she tried to fill her lungs. Lanie was her best friend. The one person she had gone to with Castle-related problems over the past four years, and that she couldn’t tell her now that the relationship was happening just broke her. 
“He’s busy,” Kate replied evenly.

“And as I failed to find someone, Beckett and I opted to be one another’s plus ones,” Castle interjected. Innocent, really. Just friends. Like at Ryan’s wedding. 

Eyes locked on Esposito’s ass as he moved across the room to where Jenny and Ryan stood, Lanie replied, “You two ought to be careful or people might start talking.”

Kate didn’t miss her friend’s attention shifting, refocusing. “Don’t they already?” Kate asked. With a slight nudge to get Lanie’s full attention, she added, “You might want to take your own advice.”

Lanie turned to her, shrugging to show her lack of concern. “At least there would be truth to the rumor.”

It was on the tip of her tongue. The back of her hand brushed Castle’s behind the shield of the kitchen counter, and perhaps the reveal didn’t need to be spoken. Perhaps it could be subtle, like her leaning closer to Castle, him curling his hand at her waist, and the two of them simply smiling at Lanie until she clicked. 

But the moment flitted off, became lost. Lanie, drawn like a magnet to Esposito, wandered off slightly tipsy in his direction, leaving Kate and Castle to their cocktails. 

Lub-dub. Lub-dub.

Her heart taunted her. 

“I wish it were different too,” Castle said gently, having watched her silently struggle - tonight, last week, the past few months - with this secret. 

Kate exhaled a slow breath, before taking a long sip from the cocktail in her hands. She swallowed the cool liquid, and the hints of Midori and pineapple juice made her smile. He had made it to her preference. As always. 

“Telling them might change nothing, or it could result in -- Well, you know what.” She was done talking about how it might split them up. 

With a smile toward his mother and daughter, he whispered into Kate’s ears, “Neither the angels in heaven above...” Nodding over to where Ryan, Esposito, and Lanie stood, now watching them like hawks, Castle said, “Nor the demons down under the sea...” His eyes fixed on Beckett alone, he finished, “Can ever dissever my soul from the soul, of the beautiful Katherine B.” 

She had to roll her eyes at that, no matter how sweet and reassuring he was trying to be. “You’re a sap, you know that?”

He shrugged. “Hey I’m just happy that’s what you took from that, because that poem is all kinds of creepy.”

“Well, Castle, despite the fact it is indeed Halloween, I’m willing to ignore the necrophilia subtext.”

“Yeah, perhaps that wasn’t the best poem to recite.”

“Ya think?”

“But between your outfit and mine, it was either going to be that or something about plaiting a dark red love-knot into your long bla-- brown hair.”

“You need to stop it now,” she warned in a low tone. “Before Ryan and Espo work their way over here. They’ve been less than subtle for the past few minutes.”

“Hey, I’m just mixing cocktails and reciting poetry. You know, the usual Halloween stuff.”

Placing her cocktail down, Kate shook her head at him. “Mmhmmm,” she replied. With a sigh, she accepted the seal had to be broken. “Bathroom break, Castle.”

“Is that an invitation? Because that’s even weirder than the poem.”

She groaned. “Just guard my drink, would ya.” She turned, and left him to mix his drinks alone.

--------------

Moving through Castle’s bedroom to the en-suite, Kate never noticed the boys slipping through the study, never saw the ambush coming. 

“So, me and Ryan were just having an interesting discussion.” 

Kate’s shoulders slumped. She had almost made it to the safety of the bathroom. She turned to Espo and Ryan, trying to keep from glancing around the bedroom in fear of an item of hers forgotten and in view, and folded her arms across her chest. “Bad timing, boys.”

They ignored her. “Witnessed something interesting too,” Ryan told her. “We have a question, about you and Castle.”

Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. 

They heard!

The more he questioned her, the guiltier she felt, and the louder the drumming sounded in her ears. In her head? She was guilty. Guilty of keeping her and Castle’s relationship from their friends, guilty of constantly lying to them. But she wasn’t going crazy. The sound wasn’t in her head. How could Ryan and Espo not hear it? 

They suspected!

They didn’t flinch, didn’t react at all, as the rhythm of her heart steadily beat along, increasing in volume. They closed in around her, pointing out little things here and there that they had noticed recently, how they’d been putting things together like good little detectives. 
But she barely heard them, their voices almost drowned out by her heart beating erratically in her chest. 

They knew!

When she couldn’t take it any longer, when the guilt became too much, she flung her hands up to hush them. “Enough!” She said hoarsely, unable to keep it inside. “Castle and I are together, okay? He’s my boyfriend.” She put emphasis on the last word, glaring at Ryan as she did so.

“Yeah,” Ryan replied, unable to suppress the smug smile. “We know. We figured it out.” 

Pride lit up their faces; whether it was from the fact they had solved the mystery, or because they approved of the pairing, she didn’t care. Pointing a warning finger between the both of them she said slowly, clearly, and calmly, “If this gets out, Castle and I will be split up.” 

“It won’t get out,” Esposito replied. He flashed her a brief smile, before his eyes narrowed. “But you could’ve trusted us ya know, Beckett.”

“Plausible deniability, Javi. We couldn’t...” She sighed. “I’m serious, guys. No one else can know.” 

“They won’t,” he promised her. “Your secret’s safe.”

Her eyes narrowed for a moment, before she nodded. She had to trust them. Then she waited, and when the sly smirks didn’t come, she asked, “What, no taunts?” They both should have been tearing her apart already.

Ryan shrugged. “You’ve been .. different recently, Beckett. Castle’s clearly good for you.”

“But if he hurts you, I will kill him,” Esposito warned, unnecessarily, but simply because it was expected from him. 

“He knows this,” she told them. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She stepped backwards into the bathroom, firing them a last warning look before closing the door, and slumping back against it. 

And, after a moment, she heard it - silence

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In the living room, two detectives zoned in on their unsuspecting target, shaking cocktails in the kitchen. They had to appear at least a little menacing - before the high-fives, bird feedings, and back slaps were delivered. 

End.

Captain Founder, Administrator, Editor and Writer

The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary. You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow's adventures. And when I was vulnerable, you were strong. I love you, Richard Castle. And I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace. I promise you I will love you. I will be your friend and your partner in crime and in life, always. - Kate Beckett The moment we met, my life became extraordinary. You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn. You are the joy in my heart. You're the last person I want to see every night when I close my eyes. I love you, Katherine Beckett. And the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. I promise to love you, to be your friend, and your partner in crime and life, 'till death do us part, and for the time of our lives. - Richard Castle

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